Playstation Mobile has been a long time coming. Originally announced back in January of 2011 as Playstation Suite, this program was initially touted as an initiative to bring Playstation-certified content to non-Playstation platforms. The first device to bare the Playstation-certification was none other than Sony’s long-rumored “Playstation Phone,” the Xperia PLAY by Sony Ericsson. Its launch was met with some confusion, as there was only one Playstation game available for the platform- the original Crash Bandicoot. Playstation One games trickled out slowly as time went by, leaving us with a paltry 11 games a year and a half beyond launch. Not an impressive showing for the first phone designed to bring us Playstation-certified content.
Fast forward to the end of 2011, news got out that Sony was pushing forward with the program and had begun distributing SDKs for only $99. By summer 2012, Sony was able to reveal that the initiative had been re-branded as Playstation Mobile and was moving in fast on the smart phone and tablet market. Partnerships with mobile giants like HTC were also encouraging- but even with all of these reveals, we had yet to see any actual content.
The wait is finally over. On October third, the application for Playstation Mobile was released for compatible Android devices. There is also a new section on the Vita’s Playstation Store for Playstation Mobile- yep, the Vita is also a compatible mobile device. First things first- you sign into the application with your usual SEN account, and all purchases are tied to that account. This means that you can buy a game on your Xperia PLAY, and then download it again from your Playstation Vita. Purchases can be downloaded on up to three devices at a time. What’s more is that there are currently 20 games and 1 app available for purchase. The launch lineup is varied in genre, target audience and developer. The games themselves are former minis, iOS ports, first-party content, and brand new titles alike. The full list can be found below.
This launch is not without its hiccups, though. It is pretty clear that Playstation Mobile is now meant to compete with the App and Google Play Stores- so the wildly varying pricing (avg. $3-5) and comparatively tall premiums are a downer, though not surprising. It is also a tad disappointing that there are not more Playstation-like features available to help differentiate these games from other mobile games. No trophies, no save transfers, no Playstation Network. Aside from the fact that the games are stored within the app itself rather than with the rest of your apps, there is not an initially discernible difference between these games and games downloaded from Google Play.
The program is still a work in progress, so it remains to be seen whether the program will err on the side of the App Store, or attempt to become an integrated part of the Playstation Network experience. I am personally hoping for the latter- how amazing would it be to check your PSN messages and trophies from your phone or tablet? It is this kind of experience that will further help distinguish PSM games from games found on other mobile distribution platforms, or even the Minis that released on the PSP last generation.
For now, it is all about the games themselves. The games here at launch, like all mobile games, are hit and miss. The Playstation branding is not necessarily a guarantee of quality- especially when they are coming from iOS or the Minis program. That said, I believe that at least some of the developers know two of their target audiences- Playstation fans and gamers that happen to own Android phones. Standouts like Aqua Kitty and Super Crate Box seek to satisfy those who are, well, not quite so satisfied with the bulk of mobile games today. Aqua Kitty in particular shines on the Vita and Xperia Play, thanks to the employment of the traditional control inputs. Sony’s own offerings are far from the best, and we hope that they will seek to remedy this soon. Putting out an exclusive title from a major first-party IP would be a killer way to get the ball rolling. Until then, here is the first wave of games:
Audio – Beats Trellis (SCE)
Action – Wipe!, Nyoqix, Rebel, Hungry Giraffe
Arcade – Super Crate Box, Aqua Kityy – Milk Mine Defender, Fuel Tiracas
Casual – Everybody’s Arcade (SCE), Twist Pilot
Music – Frederic – Resurrection of Music, Samurai Beatdown
Puzzle – Loot the Land, Magic Arrows, Underline, Numblast (SCE), Word Blocked, Tractor Trails, Beats Slider
Simulation – incurvio
Sports – Flick Hockey
The Playstation Mobile application itself, as of this writing, is not available on the Google Play store. It can be found on Playstation’s official website, here. It is not compatible with all devices- currently there are only plans for the Wikipad and select Sony, HTC, Sharp, Fujitsu, and ASUS devices. We would be surprised if there were not many more partnerships on the way in the coming months, though, so stay on the lookout!
Stay tuned for reviews on these games and upcoming Playstation Mobile titles and certified devices!